CWU calls for ‘heads to roll’ over ‘clear failings’ in Post Office bonus scandal

Large bonus payouts to company bosses 'unjustified from the outset'

‘Clear failings’ and ‘inadequate’ governance were the conclusions of an independent report into the Post Office bonus scheme which has led to fresh calls for resignations at the top of the organisation.

Bosses were paid unjustified ‘extortionate bonuses’ worth tens of thousands of pounds based on a false claim that they had helped an inquiry into the postmasters’ IT scandal to finish on time.

The inquiry relates to the Horizon IT scandal, when the Post Office’s flawed Horizon IT system incorrectly suggested financial shortcomings which resulted in more than 700 people being wrongly prosecuted for theft and false accounting between 2000 and 2014. The miscarriage of justice saw many of those involved suffer severe depression.

The chief executive Nick Read and 32 other senior managers at the Post Office, which is owned by the government, were handed out payouts based on an apparent error. When it was found out, Read apologised and promised to hand back 3 per cent of his £455,000 bonus.

MP Kevan Jones, who has made previous calls for Nick Read to resign over the bonuses scandal, said the bonuses were ‘unjustified’ from the outset.

“These failings have caused anguish amongst all those wronged by the Horizon scandal,” said Jones. “The chief executive and board should therefore take responsibility and resign.”

Continuing his track record of holding bosses to account, MP Darren Jones, chair of the Business & Trade Select Committee (BTC) said there were still questions to be answered.

“There are still questions to be answered about what led to false accounts being presented to Parliament, and bonus payments being made to executives based on false information.

“The BTC will consider the report closely and follow up in due course.”

CWU has called on ministers to ‘act now and to act decisively’ over the matter. CWU acting deputy general secretary postal, Andy Furey, said the company leadership must not be allowed to get away with it.  

“It is not acceptable for the Post Office to reward its own senior executives for their participation in the Horizon Inquiry – they were ordered to do so – or for the Post Office to falsely claim that Horizon Inquiry lead Sir Wyn Williams had somehow approved their claims,” said Furey.

“There must be no ‘whitewash’ here. There has to be real change – the current Post Office leadership must not be allowed to get away with this.”

(Photo credit: Flickr / Creative Commons)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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